FITT Factors: Intensity

Factors for a successful training program are Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type; "FITT".
Certain factors must be part of any fitness training program for it to be successful. These factors are Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. The acronym FITT makes it easier to remember them.



Training at the right intensity is one of the biggest challenges of training. The intensity should vary with the type of exercise being done.

Exercise for CR development must be strenuous enough to elevate the heart rate to between 60 and 90 percent of the heart rate reserve (HRR). (More on this later.) Those with low fitness levels should start exercising at a lower training heart rate (THR) of about 60 percent of HRR.

For muscular strength and endurance, intensity refers to the percentage of the maximum resistance that is used for a given exercise. When determining intensity in a strength-training program, it is easier to refer to a “repetition maximum” or “RM.” For example, a 1O-RM is the maximum weight that can be correctly lifted 10 times. An 8-12 RM is the weight that can be lifted 8 to 12 times correctly. Doing an exercise “correctly” means moving the weight steadily and with proper form without getting help from other muscle groups by jerking, bending, or twisting the body.

For the average person who wants to improve both muscular strength and endurance, an 8-12 RM is best. The person who wants to concentrate on muscular strength should use weights which let him do three to seven repetitions before his muscles fatigue. Thus, for strength development, the weight used should be a 3-7 RM. On the other hand, the person who wants to concentrate on muscular endurance should use a 12+ RM. When using a 12+ RM as the training intensity, the more repetitions performed per set, over time, the greater will be the improvement in muscular endurance. Conversely, the greater the number of repetitions performed, the smaller will be the gains in strength. For example, a person who regularly trains with a weight which lets him do 100 repetitions per exercise (a 1OO-RM) greatly increases his muscular endurance but minimally improves his muscular strength. (More on this later.)

All exercise sessions should include stretching during the warm-up and cool-down. One should stretch so there is slight discomfort, but no pain, when the movement is taken beyond the normal range of motion. (More on stretching and flexibility later.)

Goal Intensity

  • Cardiorespiratory Endurance 60-90% Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)
  • Muscular Strength 3-7 Repetition Maximum (RM)
  • Muscular Endurance 12 + Repetition Maximum (RM)
  • Muscular Strength and Endurance 8-12 Repetition Maximum (RM)
  • Flexibility Tension and slight discomfort, NOT PAIN

Last modified: Sunday, 19 August 2012, 3:54 PM